Fairgoers try new voting machines
Those who dared to beat the heat at the Hubbard County Fair this week were able to try out new voting equipment. Petra Duecher and Bekkah Richgels, students working for the Secretary of State's office, set up a booth to demonstrate the AutoMARK a...
Those who dared to beat the heat at the Hubbard County Fair this week were able to try out new voting equipment.
Petra Duecher and Bekkah Richgels, students working for the Secretary of State's office, set up a booth to demonstrate the AutoMARK and M100 optical scan voting machines.
Duecher said the goal of the equipment is to "help Americans vote independently." She added, "People shouldn't be afraid of it."
AutoMARK is designed to aid voters who are blind, have poor vision, cannot hold a pen or have other difficulties with marking a paper ballot.
Chris Cullen was the third person Thursday morning to learn how to use the machine. "It was easy," he said.
Cullen was concerned about the cost of the expensive equipment but said, "it's important for handicapped people."
The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) and federal grants are providing funds for the new machines and training for election judges. Duecher and Richgels said the state is to cover what the federal grants do not.
"Local government doesn't have to pay for anything," Duecher assured.
Minnesota chose equipment that was top of the line in order to benefit voters with disabilities.
The AutoMARK has a screen that can enlarge text, headphones and braille for blind voters and even a sip/puff tube portal for those who will require it.
The machine can also detect common ballot-marking errors such as under- or over-voting and will alert voters so they can fix the error before they leave the polling place.
The original pen and paper way of voting and personal assistance in marking ballots will still be available to those who prefer not to use the new machines.
An M100 optical scanner will aid in counting ballots. This equipment also detects common ballot-marking errors and will alert the voter so they can correct their ballot.
Duecher said an important fact for Minnesotans to remember is that the new equipment still "preserves the paper ballot. Every voter will use the same paper ballot."
Voters will be able to cast their votes using the new machines in the primary election Sept. 12. There will be at least one new voting machine at each polling place in the state.
For those who would like to learn how to use the machines and try them, the equipment will be at the auditor's office on the first floor of the courthouse, starting Aug. 1.
For more information visit the Minnesota Secretary of State's Web site at www.sos.state.mn.us .